From Acid Reflux to Gallstones…

Alright, I promised y’all that I would share my long story about how I found out about my gallstones! So here’s the post for all my friends out there wondering and scratching their heads about my health the last 6 months.

E’s Long Health Story from the Very Beginning

I’ve always been struggling with gastric problems – probably for more than over two years starting in 2014ish. The bloat and stomach aches were becoming too frequent and too painful for me to ignore. My primary care physician originally thought I had acid reflux disease and prescribed Prilosec. However, that only helped limit the stomach aches and not necessarily helped me get rid of them. Asking her what I could do, she suggested I remove items from my diet in hopes of finding out exactly what is causing the discomfort. I guess doctors don’t always have the answers???

After she suggested this, I decided to stop eating meat for a month. It was easy because it was Lent at the time and I figured I had to give something up. Doing so helped for a bit and I slowly added small amounts of meat back into my diet (after Lent, of course). It was going great — I thought I was in the clear. Until later that year I was feeling horrible again.

Back to the drawing board, I decided to limit wheat products next. It might have been the gluten-free trend at the time that made me think I was gluten intolerant but admittedly I felt good for a bit. I did miss pizza, deli sandwiches, and desserts but I was doing well. Until I didn’t… Even with eliminating wheat, I was crawling into bed to lie on my stomach to relieve the pain at least twice a week.

I was beyond frustrated at this point so I went on a cleansing rampage; I went on a Whole30 diet. I took D with me, kicking and screaming when he found out that he couldn’t have sodas or coffee with sugar. Whole30 turned out to be good all around — we lost weight, we had tons of energy, and my stomach seemed to mellow out. From Whole30 we went on to live a semi-Paleo lifestyle. I say semi because let’s be honest… we needed red wine and beer every now and then.

The biggest problem with living Paleo was the amount of work in the kitchen we had to do ahead of time AND the amount of money we spend on groceries each week. I was working two jobs (on my way to picking up my third) and he was working 50+ hrs a week. We just couldn’t maintain that lifestyle so we cut what we could and went back to moderately eating better vs. adhering to a strict Paleo or Whole30 lifestyle. I’d like to say it’s an 80/20 lifestyle.

Surprisingly, my stomach issues stopped. My physician was happy that I found a lifestyle that worked (no thanks to her, really). That was until September 22, 2016, when I stayed up all night from intense, stabbing pain in my upper abdomen. D was concerned but I was adamant that it was heartburn and that I’d be fine in the morning. I was fine in the morning, but two days later I had another attack followed by another attack a day after that followed by another attack at the end of the week. That week I slept maybe 20 hours. I was exhausted and at my wits end. The following week I went to my physician who finally became concerned and ordered an ultrasound along with new medication for ulcers.

Let me say that the meds were gross. It was basically drinking chalk before each meal. Sometimes it made me want to gag. My coworkers commented on how I looked horrible and miserable. I was, and I thanked them for their honesty. That’s the least I can say for my ultrasound technician. She gasped and shook her head as she took images of my abdomen. When I was finished she said something to the effect of, I hope everything goes well for you. That did nothing to quell my fears…

A week after my ultrasound, my physician emails to tell me that I have gallstones and she was referring me to a gastrointestinal surgeon to have my gallbladder removed! I was stunned, yet happy to know it wasn’t anything else. I for sure thought I had cancer after my ultrasound visit. When I met my surgeon on November 1, 2016, I was given the rundown. She was strict and ridged, reminding me of a past marathon coach.

I was sternly told to cut all the fat out of my diet, limit sugars, and to drink plenty of fluids. She reviewed everything, even warning me about complications during surgery and the possibility of my gallbladder bursting beforehand. I admired that she was straight to the point. Her nurse called me later that week to scheduled my pre-operation appointments, post-operation appointments, and nurse calls. Lastly, the nurse instructed me to stop by the laboratory a week before my surgery for blood and urine samples. Oddly enough, I was set to have surgery days after my birthday — December 5th.

Fast forward to November 23, 2016 sitting in the laboratory room waiting for vials upon vials to be taken from me, I was quietly relieved. After two years of not knowing what the heck was wrong with me, I now knew what it was and was on my way to getting it settled. It was a good feeling, though scary feeling because it meant having surgery as the remedy. As D and I left the medical center, he kissed me and promised me that I’d be okay. It reassured me that everything was going to be fine.

That was until about 10:20am that day when my Kaiser Permanente app notified me of a new test result. Positive for pregnancy.

And that my friends is how we found out we were going to be parents. I kid you not. From acid reflux disease to gallstones to pregnancy. Crazy, huh?

‘Til the next time.
– E